Public Housing | St. Louis Public Radio

Public Housing

Lead-based paint
Mike Mozart | Flickr

The Quincy Housing Authority has received $1 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to remove lead from its residential properties.

Housing officials in Quincy, Illinois, about 135 north of St. Louis, aim to address properties built in 1942. Houses built before the 1978 federal ban on lead-based paint most likely contain traces of lead. The HUD funds will be used to hire a contractor to conduct testing and lead abatement for five properties, which contain a total of 254 units.

Lois Jackson, who lives in the Villa Lago housing complex in Spanish Lake, sits outside her apartment. Public housing residents have recently been banned from smoking inside their homes.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

James Parker has been smoking for more than six decades. But to keep his habit, he's had to make changes. Every time he smokes, he has to go outside his home in the Badenfest apartment complex on North Broadway in St. Louis.

Parker is one of the hundreds of smokers in St. Louis who can no longer light up in their homes. Residents and housing agencies are adjusting to a new rule from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development which bars residents from smoking within 25 feet of their apartments. Residents and housing advocates have criticized the policy and are worried it will result in more evictions.

The John Robinson Homes opened in 1943 as a segregated apartment complex for black families in East St. Louis.
William Widmer | Special to ProPublica

The door is off its hinges in Farlon Wilson’s bathroom. Wilson said that’s an improvement from when she first moved in, when there was no bathroom door at all. She said she’s putting in work orders to fix the problems nearly every week.

“The tub won’t stop leaking and the floor is about to fall,” Wilson said while demonstrating how the floor bends under the pressure of her foot. “I have no access to my bathroom water, period. I’ve had to turn it off because it’s leaking in my kitchen.”

Downstairs in the kitchen, she motioned to a patch in the ceiling where water once leaked through and later talked about how she and her family’s breathing has been affected by mold. She pays less than $100 a month in rent.

Florince Harlan stands in the courtyard of the John Robinson Houses, the public housing complex where her daughter Alexis Winston was killed on Aug. 8, 2017
William Widmer | Special to ProPublica

This article was produced in partnership with The Southern Illinoisan, which is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.

Flickr | SuperFantastic

All public housing in Missouri is now smoke-free.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the policy change in November 2016, mandating the facilities prohibit smoking by July 30 of this year.

The deadline went into effect on Monday for all public-housing facilities in Missouri. Cheryl Lovell, the executive director for the St. Louis Housing Authority, said the news has been met with mixed reactions from residents living in public housing in St. Louis.

The Rev. Starsky Wilson spoke at the Parents United for Change meeting Wednesday March 14, 2018.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Low-income families who live in public housing in East St. Louis are burdened by hidden fees that keep them trapped in debt, according to a survey conducted by the Stepping Out of Poverty campaign.

To help families escape the escalating debts, a group of East St. Louis parents is fighting the housing authority fees they say prevent families from moving and keep people impoverished. Parents United for Change have met with the East St. Louis Housing Authority to negotiate new policies that would limit the fees.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson
Gage Skidmore | Flickr

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is urging people in the St. Louis region to make sure protests do not disintegrate into violence.

During a stop Thursday in East St. Louis, Carson said he hoped the protests would generate a broader understanding of the challenges facing the St. Louis region.

Sparkle Burns, a community coach with Jobs Plus, entertains Kylie Short while the 9-month-old's mother works on her resume at Clinton-Peabody's Al Chappelle Center in December 2015.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

This time last year, Sparkle Burns sometimes had to go to a food pantry to make sure there was dinner on her table.

But with the help of a new job training program at her public housing complex, the single mom was able to get her daughter into the Head Start program, where she also found a part-time job as a community coach.

Then in April she landed a full-time job — with benefits — at an accounting firm.

Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

For those who see nothing but divisiveness in Congress, Tuesday’s vote backing the most significant changes in public housing policy in decades may be a refreshing surprise.

The bill, HR 3700, sponsored Missouri Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth and Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City, reforms “19 areas and 65 to 70 provisions” of existing law, under the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Agriculture Department’s Rural Housing Service.

Sparkle Burns, a community coach with Jobs Plus, entertains Kylie Short while the 9-month-old's mother works on her resume at Clinton-Peabody's Al Chappelle Center in December 2015.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

At 53, Lucretia Hollins is older than your average cheerleader. But that, in essence, is what she’s paid 20 hours a week to be. Hollins encourages her neighbors to sign up — and stick with — a new job-training program at their public housing complex, the Clinton-Peabody in St. Louis' near south-side.

“It’s not so much about the paycheck. It’s about being able to help somebody else,” said Hollins. “Because I know where I was at, and you can’t let your circumstances in life take you out.”

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

 

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, is sponsoring what he calls the biggest “reform” to the Department of Housing and Urban Development in more than 50 years.

 

The legislation addresses long-standing issues in public housing across the U.S.

 

“What we’ve done with this bill is open up 19 different sections of the law, somewhere between 65 and 70 provisions that we believe make some significant changes in the way HUD operates,” Luetkemeyer told St. Louis Public Radio.

 

Flanked by Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia and Mayor Francis Slay, Clinton-Peabody Tenant Affairs President Sam Blue celebrates winning the HUD jobs grant on Thursday, April 2, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Residents of St. Louis’ Clinton-Peabody housing development will soon have help from the federal government to find good-paying jobs. The near south side public housing complex is the recipient of a $3 million grant.

Jason Epperson

Jean King and Richard Baron first met in 1968, when the two joined forces to protest conditions and rent hikes in St. Louis public housing.

Together, they earned a reputation as “imaginative leaders” and community advocates, attracting the attention of author/filmmaker Daniel Blake Smith.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin is touting new measures to increase security for public housing residents in East St. Louis. The federally-funded plan includes installing cameras at six high-rise properties and hiring a new security coordinator.

"We're going to be putting up lighting and fencing," Durbin said. "We're going to move forward to try to make sure the almost 4,500 residents of public housing in East St. Louis have a safer place to live."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 8, 2011 - Those solar panels that are beginning to appear on the roofs of homes and offices in the St. Louis area may turn out to be a cool idea in more ways than one. A study published in this month's issue of Solar Energysays the panels can produce the unintended but welcome benefit of making buildings a little cooler during the summer. This is in addition to widely mentioned justifications of turning to solar energy to lower carbon emissions and cut heating costs.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded the city of St. Louis $7.8 million to help redevelop the area around the city's last public housing tower for families.

The Pruitt-Igoe public housing project in St. Louis was once considered the template for post-war public housing, a national model.  For awhile it was—until it wasn’t.  The high rise complex was constructed in 1954.  Two decades later, and by then notorious, Pruitt-Igoe was a pile of rubble, imploded and bulldozed into history. What went wrong and why?  That’s the subject of a new documentary film called The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: an Urban History.   Directed by Chad Freidrichs, the film will have its St. Louis premiere this Saturday at the Missouri History Museum.